NHTSA — Steering: Column Problems

CarComplaints.com Seal Of This Might Hurt

CarComplaints.com Notes: Ahh, the 2004 Saturn Ion: defective transmission, deadly ignition switch, temperamental power steering and a cheap plastic exterior that won’t protect you in a crash. What more could you want?

The 2004 Ion was part of GM’s massive ignition switch recall where it was revealed they waited 10 years – and let 13 people die – before doing anything about it. It also features GM’s now infamous VTi continuously variable transmission. Let me tell you, the only thing the VTi did continuously was fail on its owners. GM scrapped it after only two model years.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
44,688 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2004 Saturn Ion steering problems

steering problem

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2004 Saturn Ion Owner Comments

problem #8

Aug 242006


  • 21,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. While driving approximately 25-30 mph the vehicle lost power steering. She stated that the vehicle became very difficult to steer and she had to hold on to the shifter and the steering wheel in order to gain control of the vehicle. The vehicle was manual. The contact had taken the vehicle to three local mechanics and they advised her that the steering column needed to be replaced and has referred her to the dealer. The vehicle was not taken to an authorized dealer for this failure. The contact stated that the failure was intermittent at first but she no longer has power steering. While driving the vehicle also locked in gear and she could not shift out of gear. The contact stated the failure happened at 9,000 miles. The vehicle was taken to the dealer thirty seven times for this failure and they have replaced the wires but the failure continued to occur. The dealer has never diagnosed the failure because the contact would not pay $500 for diagnostic testing. The failure mileage was 21,000 and the current mileage was 83,000.

- Barnhart, MO, USA

problem #7

Nov 082009


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated while driving at approximate speeds of 65mph, the power steering warning light illuminated and the steering failed. The failure continued and became progressively worse. The dealer and advised the steering column would need to be replaced at the owner's expense. The manufacturer would not offer any assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 70,000 and the current mileage was approximately 94,000.

- New Albany , IN, USA

problem #6

Nov 032009


  • 10,000 miles
-the contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact was driving approximately between 45-55 mph the power steering locked without warning, causing limited control in the steering of the vehicle. The vehicle was driven to the side of the road and the engine was turned off. When the vehicle restarted, the power steering functioned normal for a few moments and failure continued to occur. The dealer was notified and stated that the steering column would be replaced at the owner expense. The vehicle had not been repaired at the time of the complaint. The failure mileage was 10,000. The current mileage was 96,000.

- Novi, MI, USA

problem #5

Mar 172008


  • 92,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that when driving at various speeds, the electric power steering would fail. If under 15 mph, it would be extremely hard to turn without the electric steering. When he turned the vehicle off and restarted it, the problem seemed to correct itself. The problem was intermittent at first but became more frequent over time to the point where it may happen 4-5 times while driving. The contact took the vehicle to the dealership several times and was told that the entire steering column needed to be replaced. He called the manufacturer and was told that they could not assist him because there was no recall. The vehicle had not been repaired at the time of the complaint. The current mileage was approximately 170,000. The failure mileage was approximately 92,000.

- Laurens, SC, USA

problem #4

Jan 092009


  • 65,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. While driving 70 mph, the power steering failed and the power steering light illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact pulled over and turned off the vehicle. Once the engine was restarted, the vehicle performed normally. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, but they could not duplicate the failure. The mechanic stated that if the steering was failing, the entire steering column would have to be replaced. The vehicle has not been repaired and continues to fail. The manufacturer stated that no compensation would be provided because there were no recalls. The contact was advised to take the vehicle to the dealer for further inspection. The failure mileage was 65,000 and current mileage was 77,000.

- Ann Harbour, MI, USA

problem #3

Jan 102008


  • miles
Power steering turns off while driving. Comes back on if car is turned off and restarted. Dealership charging @ $920 to replace steering column. Numerous reports online of same issue.

- Alabaster, AL, USA

problem #2

Oct 102007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,500 miles
While driving on the highway, the power steering light would come on and I could barely steer the vehicle and I had to get off the highway immediately. After I pulled off the highway, I would turn the vehicle off and then turn it back on and I would proceed to my destination.

- Miamisburg, OH, USA

problem #1

Sep 292006

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 46,000 miles
: the contact stated while applying brake pressure at 35 mph on a street, there was a loss of all power steering without warning. Afterwards, the power steering failure light illuminated. The contact turned the ignition off and restarted the engine, but the power steering returned. The vehicle was taken to a dealer who determined the steering column needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified.

- Riverdale, GA, USA

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